The Righteous One’s Cry Against Temptation

a brief study of Psalm 28, adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 15 Dec 2006

The theme of Psalm 28 is not immediately obvious. John Brown sees it as David’s cries for deliverance due to some distress. Andrew Bonar sees it as “the appeal and thanksgiving of the righteous as they view the tents of the ungodly.” George Horne sees it as the Lord’s prayer for deliverance from his enemies and for their destruction.

I am inclined to see this Psalm as “The Righteous One’s cry against temptation to follow the way of the wicked.”

Though this Psalm was penned by David, he, no doubt, wrote the words of Christ (Col 3:16) under the inspiration of the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet 1:10). Christ was tempted at all points like as we are, yet without sin. So as He taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation,” we know that He must have prayed likewise.

This Psalm gives us an insight into how He must have expanded the prayer: “Lead us not into temptation.”

This Psalm has two parts. In verses 1-5, we see the Lord’s petition for deliverance from temptation. In verses 6-9, we see the Lord’s thanksgiving for deliverance.

1. The Lord’s Petition for Deliverance
from Temptation

To be tempted is to experience something very common to man. Our first parents fell because they were tempted. Since then, every person who knows the difference between right and wrong has experienced temptation.

However, very few of us will take temptations very seriously. Many of us take them as they come, and when they come, we deal with them in a haphazard way. Very often, we resist or give in to them according to how we feel at the moment. We think very little about what is going on and the consequence of our actions.

But our Lord was the perfect man. He was tempted at all points like as we are yet without sin. And it is not because He was shielded from all temptations. Indeed, while we are shielded from all temptations except for what is common to man and what we are individually able to bear (1 Cor 10:13), Christ our Lord must have been tempted to an uncommon degree and in ways that none of us could have withstood.

We can imagine, for example, how intensely our Lord must have been tempted when He was wrongly accused by His enemies. For when someone accuses us of something relating to our intentions or attitudes, very few of us (who are honest with ourselves), will be able to claim perfect innocence. Our Lord was perfectly clear in his mind what He was doing. He knew that he had absolutely no evil intentions. This, no doubt, would have caused a sense of injustice to arise in his heart, so that perhaps He was tempted to make a strong counter-accusation, or even to put to silence His accuser. And he would be able to do so with perfect righteousness. But if He did so, and he was perfectly capable of doing so, He would have sinned against God by breaking his own vow to suffer on behalf of His people.

What then did our Lord do when He faced such temptations? He, no doubt, cried out unto the Father!

Consider the things He would say in His prayer.

Firstly, He pleas to be heard:

1 Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. 2 Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.

The Lord calls His Father ‘my rock’ because He is immovable and dependable. What does the Lord mean when He says, “be not silent to me?” What He means is simply that He desires to be heard—not just heard as one making a noise, but heard as one crying for help. He desires to hear an answer from the Father—whether in words or in actions.

In other words, He desires a discernible response from His Father. It is like when a child asks something of his mother, but the mother is busy and does not reply. This can be extremely frustrating for the child.

The Father, no doubt, always hears Him. “Thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it” says the Lord on another occasion (Jn 11:42). The Father always hears Him, but for our sakes, He prays as He did so that we may likewise learn to ask the Father not to be silent to us.

But why does our Lord want to be heard? “1b Lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit” He says.

Unless the Father hears and answers His prayer, He might be like them that go down into the pit. I.e., that He might become like the wicked—perhaps beginning to live as if God does not exists; or being dragged into temptation and doing the things that the wicked do. This would, of course, not happen to Christ the God-Man. But the God-Man prays as man should pray. And in prayer, man being a finite creature may support his petition with what he perceives would be the consequence if his prayer be not answered. This is what our Lord does in his first petition.

But secondly, he makes a specific petition to be kept from temptation:

3 Draw me not away with the wicked, and with the workers of iniquity, which speak peace to their neighbours, but mischief is in their hearts.

That is: Do not allow me to go in the way of the wicked. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil. Allow me not to wander away from thee, to follow the example of the wicked and with the workers of iniquity. Workers of iniquity are those who are hypocrites, who say one thing but mean another.

Remember how the Lord Jesus warned that in the Last Day there will be many who say unto him, “Lord, lord, have we not done many wonderful works in thy name?” And he would say unto them “I never knew you,” “depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity” (Lk 13:27).

Workers of iniquity are essentially those who are lawless and hypocritical.

The Lord desired not to be like unbelievers or like hypocrites who profess to believe, but actually do not. This is His second petition. He is mindful of the possibility of assimilating the ways of the wicked and beginning to do as they do. Although He would not sin though tempted sore, He does not take it for granted He would stand. He asks His Father to protect Him from wandering that way.

Thirdly, He asks the Father to deal with the wicked and hypocrites:

4 Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.

The wicked and the hypocrites sometimes appear to cruise along in life as if everything is fine. They deserve to be punished for their wickedness, but they seem to get away with their wicked deeds.

The Lord prays that the Father will take action against them—both for justice sake and so that others, including him may take warning.

The way of the wicked can seem very attractive to the child of God when it always appears so smooth.

So one of the ways to remove the attractiveness of sinful ways is for the Father to deal with those who walk in the way; and for the child of God to meditate on how the Father hates their wicked deeds.

This is what the Lord is doing in verse 5—

5 Because they regard not the works of the LORD, nor the operation of his hands, he shall destroy them, and not build them up.

Here then are the 3 petitions of the Lord as He asks His Father to deliver him from temptation.

First, He prays earnestly and sincerely asks for a response so that He is assured that His earnest request is heard. It is not a matter of fact prayer.

Secondly, He prays that He may not be tempted to follow the example of the wicked and the hypocrite.

Thirdly, He prays that the Father would deal with the wicked and the hypocrite that the righteous may be reminded of how God hates sinful ways.

Shall we not take heed to do the same as we ask the Lord to lead us not into temptation?

Shall we not pray with faith as the Lord did, and therefore was able to rejoice in the fact that His father hears and answers His cries…

2. The Lord’s Thanksgiving for Deliverance
from temptation

6 Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

It is easy when praying against temptation to take it lightly or to think that God does not hear or is not concerned about it.

Thank God for our Lord’s assurance that His prayers are heard.

7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

The Father will protect and strengthen us against all temptation if only we would trust Him.

The Lord Jesus trusted Him, and was helped. Therefore His heart greatly rejoiced and He overflowed with songs of praise.

Dearly beloved brethren and children; are you aware when God helps you to overcome a certain temptation or a certain besetting sin in your life? Will you not rejoice and praise the LORD for his goodness towards you that he is hearing your prayer?

8 The LORD is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.

The Anointed One is the Messiah (j'yvim;). That is the Hebrew for Anointed. The Greek for Anointed One is ‘Christos’ or Christ. The Father is the strength of the Anointed One and the people united to him.

The Anointed One is He whose prayer is recorded in this Psalm. He sets us an example of praying for deliverance from temptation. But He does not stop there. He petitions on our behalf too for Satan would sieve us as wheat.

This is how He ends the Psalm:

9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever.

Save thy people. Save them from sin. Save them from wrath. Bless them. They are thy inheritance. Feed them as a shepherd. Do not let them stray into the paths of wickedness and hypocrisy. Lift them up. Carry them when they fall. Do not forsake them. Be with them forever.

Thank God for this prayer of our Mediator. Thank God that the Father appointed Him as our Shepherd that we may be led by one who knows our frailty, having himself been tempted in our flesh.


Psalm 28 is not a very well-known or well-used psalm because it appears so common amongst the psalms. But it deals,—as we saw,—with a theme that affects all of us—for we are all tempted to sin in many ways.

Let us pray that the Lord opens our eyes to see wherein we have sinned, and wherein we have behaved like the wicked and like the hypocrites that we may be kept from temptation.

Let us also learn from the Lord’s example to pray earnestly and sincerely against falling into temptation. Let us ask the Lord to grant us a holy hatred for sin, especially our own sin! Let us pray that we may see through the ruse of the wicked one that we may not be let in the way of iniquity. Amen.

— JJ Lim